New £11m Ulster University teaching block to open in weeks

The news 11m teaching block at Ulster University, Magee
The news 11m teaching block at Ulster University, Magee

The new £11m teaching block at Ulster University's Magee campus will open within weeks, with the first student classes to commence in late January 2018.

The university said the complex will provide state-of-the-art facilities for Magee’s 4,300 students and would help attract major international conferences to the north west.

The new three-storey building is attached to the existing university library on the main Magee site and facilities include new lecture theatres and student hubs.

The teaching block was approved by the then Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry back in April 2015.

A spokesperson for Ulster University confirmed: "Work on the new teaching block at the Magee Campus is now completed. It will officially open for teaching in the New Year, with classes commencing when students return for our second semester.

"The new four-storey, £11m teaching block covers a floor space of 4,000 square metres, including three lecture theatres, 20 teaching rooms, open plan student hubs and a café.

"This modern teaching accommodation, which is an extension to the university library, will facilitate a collaborative teaching approach at Magee and deliver additional, state of the art facilities for more than 4,300 undergraduate and postgraduate students attending the campus annually."

"Furthermore, one of the three lecture theatres will seat 314 people, meaning that it will accommodate the largest academic cohorts at Magee and will prove to be a huge asset to the city in attracting major international conferences, " she added.

The university is also progressing with its plans to open a new Medical School in Londonderry, with a number of potential sites still being looked at.

The planned new facility, which will specialise in training GPs and clinicians, earlier this year successfully passed the first stage of its application for accreditation from the General Medical Council (GMC).

Ulster University has confirmed that it is progressing with the project, but said that the development remains reliant on political decisions being taken regarding the strategic outline case.

The University spokesperson said that they were still looking at "a number of sites in the north west" which have been identified as possible locations.

The UU also outlined how the new facility would help address the urgent need for more doctors locally.

"In the face of an unprecedented medical workforce shortage, particularly in the north west, Ulster University’s Graduate Entry Medical School (NIGEMS) will directly help address the capacity of the healthcare system to meet the patient care needs, " the spokesperson said.

"The proposal received cross-party support in November 2016, weeks before the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The Strategic Outline Case for NIGEMS was submitted to the Department of Health and to the Department for the Economy in May 2017 and the outline business case was submitted to the Department of Health at the end of October. The delivery of Ulster University’s NIGEMs is dependent upon responses to these, by way of political decisions.

"In the meantime, we are working through the accreditation process with the General Medical Council (GMC) and the University aims to be in a position to welcome the first intake of 60 medical students in the Autumn of 2019, increasing to 120 per year students over a five-year period."

Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of Medical School Development at Ulster University, said: "Ulster University’s has a global reputation for research and teaching in biomedical sciences, pharmacy, nursing and allied health professions. We also offer a Stratified Medicine programme based at Altnagelvin Hospital, the first of its kind in Europe. This places us in a unique position to undertake evidence-based teaching so that our medical graduates provide treatments that meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

"The commitment of Ulster University, to our role in Northern Ireland, including financial commitment to NIGEMS, remains across our campuses including Magee, where we have been clear in our expansion plans for."